Graffiti artists from all over Scotland are being officially invited to make their mark on the latest construction project in the centre of Edinburgh.
Up to 100 of them converged on the Old Town to kickstart the country’s largest street art project at the controversial Caltongate scheme – now renamed New Waverley. Developers Artisan Real Estate Investors have linked up with community arts collective WIPE – Work in Progress Edinburgh – who will call on a national network of street and graffiti artists to create a huge collage covering most of the walls.
Yesterday’s graffiti “jam” focused on The Arches on East Market Street, with the artists working to a Bonfire Night theme.
Artist Chris Rutterford, a founding member of WIPE, said: “This is the first stage of a hugely significant project set to transform perceptions of street art. The most exciting aspect of the project is its dynamic, ever changing nature.”
Other sites will include a 200-metre hoardings strip on New Street, where graffiti art has had a recognised place for several years, as well as scaffolding in the Royal Mile.
Chris said he hoped the project would provide “a vibrant creative heartbeat” in the city for years to come.
He said: “We want to work with the wider community on future stages which will include linking with schools and holding weekend events and street art workshops.
“The project aims to show, in full Technicolor glory, what can be achieved when different interests and skills work together positively to create consensus and positively transform an urban area.”
The £150 million New Waverley development includes new public spaces as well as shops, restaurants, hotels, homes and offices. The first phase, featuring two hotels and a new £6.5m public square, is now under way and due to be completed by 2016.
WIPE will have a base in the Canongate Venture building and Chris hopes it will form the basis of a new creative quarter for Edinburgh, as well as changing attitudes to graffiti.
He said: “Once other developers see how professional we are about this, they will be a bit more accepting about their hoardings as well.”
Clive Wilding, project director with Artisan, said: “With construction now starting on New Waverley, we wanted to make a very strong statement of intent about the development and the community that it represents.
“The project is testament to the creativity and passion of the people living here, which is the most important part of any urban development.”